Cornish gather at Australian Celtic Festival 2012

The 20th Australian Celtic Festival may have honoured our cousins the Bretons, as well as Galicia and Asturia, as its 2012 theme  but the Cornish in Australia also gathered in Glen Innes  last week (3-6 May, 2012).

A view of the Australian Standing Stones area with the Festival restarting on Sunday morning

Situated 915m (3,000 ft) above sea level in the Northern Tablelands of NSW the lovely  town of Glen Innes again hosted this annual pan-celtic festival, the 20th  since the Celtic Council of Australia chose the town as the location of The Australian Standing Stones.

This ring array of granite standing stones, carted from the nearby Red Range, stands 3 metres tall at 1115m elevation looking over the friendly town from  a hill nearby.

Friday saw representatives of the CANSW attending the ‘Celtic Nations’ Mayoral reception  hosted  by Glen Innes Public School, with some fine entertainment of Celtic songs, including ‘Bro Gozh Ma Zadou’ (Breton anthem) by the school’s choir and musicians, and morning tea by the school auxiliary.

A highlight was a Celtic art competition open to all students attending schools in the Glen Innes Severn local government area, with a notable entry a Galician Celtic ‘Castro’ village model by the small Wytaliba Public School.

The Guardian of the Stones official luncheon (the Cornish having 3 guardians among the dozen or so) was next, and then the Festival official opening by the Spanish Consul General  Senor Gerardo Bugallo Otona, outside the Town Hall in Grey Street.

20 Cornish-Australians and one Cornish born lady joined together in a ‘traditional’  Australian Chinese meal at Wongs restaurant on Friday evening.

Cornish Australians and Breton Australians march in the street parade

Saturday morning’s big street parade had a  solid contingent wearing Cornish tartans and colours, with  banners and flags held high, representing CANSW, the Southern Sons of Cornwall (SSOC), South Australia and Queensland. As well, locals with Cornish ancestry or birth joined in, and again some of our Breton cousins marched with the Cornish.

Joining the crowds flocking to the Standing Stones where the Festival was in full swing, the Cornish (old and young) were able to meet up with old friends, and mix with our  fellow Celts from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Isle of Man, and Galicia.

Over the Saturday and Sunday, in beautiful sunny autumn weather they also enjoyed terrific Celtic music and dance. An information tent of the Celtic Council of Australia staffed in part by Cornish, had many people drop by, interested in their Cornish heritage.

Cornish-Australian Roger Thomas was among those honoured at a formal dinner with a Triquetra Award, for his many contributions to the Australian Standing Stones and the Australian Celtic Festival over 22 years.

Cornish gather in front of the Cornish Stone, ready for the ceremony

Finally the Cornish gathered for the evocative ‘Cornish Stone’ ceremony, honouring Cornwall as a nation, the Cornish as an ethnic group in Australia, and commemorating the 515th anniversary of the Uprising of 1497. Rousing singing of Hail to the Homeland and Trelawney let all know the Cornish were at another fine Celtic festival.

Solemptyna an Men - the 16th Cornish Stone Ceremony

Glen Innes local and Cornish-Australian Jean Tregurtha  was then recognised by the local Rotary with a new seat on the Tregurtha Way pathway up to the Stones.

As the sun set over the Stones, celebrations continued in town.

Chris Dunkerley
Cornish Representative, Celtic Council of Australia Inc
15 May, 2011

NSW Cornish Photo Gallery from ACF2012: